The Wall Street Journal’s Michelle Hackman and Natalie Andrews report, “The Senate on Monday evening is set to consider a bill criminalizing abortions performed after 20 weeks of pregnancy, a vote that is almost certain to fail but may force Democrats up for re-election in largely Republican states to publicly take sides on the issue.” Forcing vulnerable Democrats to vote on the record is part of the anti-abortion movement’s strategy to rally its base voters during an election year. Hackman and Andrews write, “If the bill were to pass, it would almost certainly face a constitutional challenge under the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion through about 28 weeks of pregnancy.”
The Washington Post’s John Wagner and Michelle Boorstein report, “A year into Trump’s presidency, white evangelicals are rewarding him with some of his strongest support, even amid continuing salacious headlines about his personal foibles.” Reports of Trump’s alleged affair with a porn star have not affected his standing among white evangelicals, who continue to support him more than any other religious or demographic group. Wagner and Boorstein write, “But more than anything, they are letting their view of Trump be guided by other things for which they give him credit: cracking down on illegal immigration, improving the economy and making the nation feel more, in their view, patriotic.”
The Associated Press’s Vanessa Gera and Matthew Lee report on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which was marked by statements from political leaders around the world and a ceremony in Warsaw attended by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. This year’s Remembrance Day comes amid a global rise of far-right nationalism and anti-Semitism. “In Germany, many Jews have reported feeling threatened by anti-Semitism—both from native far-right groups and from newcomers from Arab countries. Jewish institutions across the country have increased security,” they write.
The Salt Lake Tribune’s Bob Mims and David Noyce report, “In the first major policy statement under newly installed President Russell M. Nelson, the LDS Church urged Congress on Friday to act quickly to protect from deportation hundreds of thousands of ‘Dreamers.’” There are more than 100 Spanish-speaking congregations in Utah, where estimates say as many as 75 percent of people are undocumented. Mims and Noyce write, “Some observers had suspected the new Mormon leadership—Nelson and his counselors Dallin H. Oaks and Henry B. Eyring—would take a more conservative stance.”
The New York Times‘ Maggie Haberman and Amy Chozick report that Burns Strider, a top Hillary Clinton aide, was accused of sexual harassment during the 2008 and 2016 campaigns. They write, “Mr. Strider, who was Mrs. Clinton’s faith adviser, a co-founder of the American Values Network, and sent the candidate scripture readings every morning for months during the campaign, was hired five years later to lead an independent group that supported Mrs. Clinton’s 2016 candidacy, Correct the Record, which was created by a close Clinton ally, David Brock.” In 2008, they report that Clinton kept him on the campaign despite the allegations. In 2016, they write, “He was fired after several months for workplace issues, including allegations that he harassed a young female aide, according to three people close to Correct the Record’s management.”
Christianity Today‘s Kate Shellnutt reports that the U.S. Senate confirmed Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback to be the next ambassador for international religious freedom. She writes, “The chamber voted 50–49—calling on Vice President Mike Pence to break a tie vote for the second time that day—to install Brownback in the vacant State Department position, which monitors persecution and discrimination on a global scale through the Office of International Religious Freedom (IRF).” Brownback was originally nominated last July. Shellnutt reports he is the first Catholic and the first politician to hold the position.
The New York Times’s Jason Horowitz reports on Pope Francis’ recent message on the dangers of fake news. The pope emphasized the importance of journalists and social media networks in curbing fake news. Horowitz writes, “But at times the pope also conflated fake news, which is politically or economically motivated disinformation, with an incremental and sensational style of journalism he dislikes.”
For Rolling Stone, Sarah Posner reports that a Houston-based anti-LGBTQ movement has had a national impact. The coalition of Christian-right and religious-liberty advocacy groups successfully shot down a Houston anti-discrimination bill in November 2015. It has since turned its attention to promoting anti-transgender “bathroom” bills in other states. Posner writes that the movement seeks to replicate the success of the anti-abortion movement in limiting the jurisdiction of Roe v. Wade. “That goal—the grinding down of Obergefell’s reach—is already in full swing,” Posner writes.
The Associated Press’s Karin Laub reports, “Palestinian Christians say U.S. Vice President Mike Pence’s brand of evangelical Christianity, with its fervent embrace of modern-day Israel as fulfilment of biblical prophecy, lacks their faith’s compassion and justice, including for those who have endured half a century of Israeli occupation.” Palestinian Christians strongly criticized Pence on Monday for ignoring the plight of Arab Christians. Laub notes that most Palestinians are Muslim, but there is a minority of Christians in the West Bank.
The Washington Post’s Jenna Johnson, Loveday Morris, and Carol Morello report, “The United States will open its embassy in Jerusalem next year, Vice President Pence said Monday, accelerating plans after the Trump administration’s controversial decision to recognize the city as Israel’s capital.” Israeli Arab lawmakers staged a walkout prior to Pence’s announcement, which was made in an address to the Israeli Parliament. Johnson, Morris, and Morello note that the Trump administration and Pence’s strong ties to evangelicals have influenced these changes in U.S. policy, as evangelicals strongly support Israel.